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Conservation officers capture drone flying over Central Okanagan wildfire

‘This is a reminder these drones create a significant hazard’
The McDougall Creek wildfire burns on the mountainside above lakefront homes, in West Kelowna, B.C., on Friday, August 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A potentially dangerous situation for firefighters battling the Grouse Complex wildfires in the Central Okanagan after a drone was spotted near one of the blazes.

“Conservation officers with the BC Ministry of Environment were able to identify the operator and seize the drone,” said Brad Litke, BC Wildfire Service, incident commander. “This is a reminder these drones create a significant hazard to our aerial operations, pilots and crews.”

Litke did not reveal where the drone was intercepted.

Anyone found interfering with wildfire control efforts, including flying drones, can face penalties up to $100,000 and/or up to one year in jail.

Over the weekend, Litke said the McDougall Creek fire challenged fire guards around Hidden Creek and planned ignitions in that area were not conducted. Planned ignition work is being done today (Aug. 28) at other sections of the fire adjacent to West Kelowna, which includes 500 hectares along the western edge of the blaze.

The McDougall Creek wildfire is estimated at 12,635 hectares and is still burning out of control.

There has been no growth on the Walroy Lake fire in Kelowna.

“Fire status continues to remain being held,” Litke said. “There are only alerts in place there.”

The situation is similar to the Clarke Creek fire in Lake Country. It is being held at 360 hectares. There are 203 wildland, and 21 structural firefighters working the three fires, along with 31 operation personnel, 12 aircraft and 30 pieces of heavy equipment.

“The BC Wildfire Service will continue to be here shoulder to shoulder with your responders until the threat has left your community,” Litke added.

READ MORE: Significant damage in West Kelowna Estates/Westside Road from McDougall Creek wildfire

READ MORE: North Westside’s Fintry and La Casa evacuation orders lifted


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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